Monday, June 6, 2011

A Fresh Look on WoW

I have returned to WoW.

Yeah, ok, that's not entirely correct. I am not going to play WoW for any length of time. But I did re-subscribe for a month out of curiosity: I wondered how WoW would look from a new player's perspective. More specifically from a Rift player's perspective: the last 4 months I played a lot of Rift and no WoW.

I hate that Blizzard looks at this and thinks: One more returning tourist. But I guess that is the price I have to pay. I made an undead mage and just did quests. I didn't read the quests, of course, but just followed the arrow. (That's the way the game is meant to be played, right?)

The first thing I have so say: These graphics really just don't get old. The animation of my undead mage, the sounds, the atmosphere. It's good!
What I didn't really understand was why I had to go see a 'trainer' every once in a while. There's no gameplay reason as far as I can see and there's certainly no reason from the simulation point of view. It's annoying, but not a big problem, of course.

Most surprisingly, the content was actually dangerous. At one time I pulled two enemies and they just killed me! Imagine that! My character got killed in the open World of Warcraft. It's possible! Of course, I also know that this would not last. Eventually I would do some battlegrounds, some instances and then I would return to questing to find out that everything is green and grey and would die when I look at it; strong character power progression ftw. Anyway. I got killed at lvl 6 by two mobs and there was nothing I could have done about it except for being more careful. Yeah!

Unfortunately, I also realized that I could remain under water for .. 10 minutes? It was too long to test it. The bar just didn't move! Rift does this better; even though I do swim at super-sonic speed in Rift. I'm sure both games will eventually fix this and copy/paste the worst aspect of the other.
Oh - and then there's falling damage. Fully exspecting to die, I jumped down a tower of considerable height. I lost about 40% of my health. Why didn't they remove falling damage while they were at it?
Finally, my mana and health return at amazing speeds. It just takes a few seconds! You can neglect the mana bar completely!

It took me 150 minutes /played to reach level 10 and I have a few screenshots for you!

Here you can see that something can't be right with WoW. A level 9 quest is bugged. Not a game breaker, but that's clearly not the name the NPC is supposed to have. Considering the number of players that are supposed to have done this quest, there are really just two conclusions: Either none of the players cared to make a bug report or none of the developers cared to fix the bug.
I also experienced two strange phasing errors. Mobs suddenly despawned and new moba spawned, because I had crossed a treshold. Not good.

A few seconds later I hit level 10. I chose a specialization and then entered a new feature that popped up! Battlegrounds.

This is a picture after a few seconds in Warsong. As you can see that level 11 guy has 416% of my hit points. Any questions as to why WoW's PvP is dieing?
New players who like PvP are actually quite unlikely to have fun being stomped into the ground be people with 4 times the amount of health (and quite some more dps). Little help for Blizzard: Why don't you hide the quest descriptions in battlegrounds automatically?
(Don't get me started on this ridiculous achievement I just got in that picture. I don't even know who died or even where!)

On looks .. I prefer this
to this anytime. And anybody who doesn't needs to have his brain checked.

At level 15 I will be able to join dungeons. I look forward to spamming my spells and gaining lots of items for it. .. just joking.
I'm don't know how long this character will actually exist. What I have learned so far is that everything about WoW that was already there at release is still phenomenal. The updated graphics are nice. The rest, including specializations and my new low-lvl rotation don't hold my attention. There are bugs that somehow haven't been fixed yet and the low-level PvP is just awkward.


  1. You're surprised that a non breating character can hold it's breath for more than 10 minutes under water? :)

  2. Quite recently, I've found the leveling experience in WoW to be far more enjoyable than the end-game. Cue the old rant on how they are two different games.

    Regardless of that argument, and the fact that PvP Balance is an oxymoron, the leveling game in WoW is just far more catered to the type of player who just wants to pick up the game and play it. You have direction in the form of quests, you have satisfying and unique combat abilities as soon as level 10, and you don't really need to care much about dungeons or other people if you don't want to. No need to learn rotations, priority orders, boss strategies...just play the game. WoW has done a fantastic job at that, for a theme park MMO.

    It's the end game that needs the work.

  3. As Kring notes, the undead have a racial that extends their underwater breath time. That said, even normal characters have enhanced lungs these days, and quests that actually require extended underwater time often hand out water-breathing potions.